There's one thing missing from our preseason All-SEC team – a freshman.
There's a sophomore, two juniors and two seniors. But there's no Oden, Durant, no Beasley.
As a matter of fact, the SEC hasn't had a freshman make either The Associated Press or the coaches' postseason first team since 1990, when Shaquille O'Neal did it for LSU. It's far and away the longest drought of any of the BCS conferences. Each of the other five leagues have had at least one freshman make first-team all-conference since 2003.
It's not like the SEC hasn't lured quality freshmen. Florida has the nation's top-ranked recruiting class this year, according to Rivals.com. Tennessee landed the No. 6 class in 2006. Mississippi State and Alabama had top-10 classes in 2005. But none of the players in those classes has been so good from the opening tip of his college career that he could make first-team All-SEC.
That doesn't figure to change this season. The incoming freshmen, including five-star prospects Anthony Randolph, Nick Calathes and Patrick Patterson, are good, but none is likely to crack this five.
Here is the Rivals.com 2007-08 preseason SEC all-conference team:
Gordon led the Bulldogs in scoring (16.0), rebounding (7.1) and assists (5.3), and ranked in the top 10 in the SEC in all three categories. He's No. 1 in the Rivals.com preseason power rankings at the point guard spot. As if that weren't enough, Arkansas guard Patrick Beverley told Rivals.com that Gordon was the toughest player to defend in the SEC. Gordon was the only underclassman to make the coaches' All-SEC first team. He's too physical for smaller guards, and he can take bigger opponents off the dribble.
He's the leading returning scorer (20.8) in the SEC, and quite simply is the best long-range shooter in the college game today. He'll be hard-pressed to catch J.J. Redick for the top spot on the career 3-pointers made list, but he'll sit alone atop the SEC list with just 54 more 3-pointers. Lofton has worked hard, though, on having a more-rounded offensive game and he made great strides last season. He became a more effective penetrator and as a result, attempted more free throws last season than he had in his first two years combined.
Beverley took the league by storm en route to SEC Freshman of the Year honors. Beverley, a Chicago native, ranked among the SEC leaders in nine of 13 statistical categories. He led the Hogs in scoring (13.9 ppg, 16th in the SEC), steals (1.7, third in the SEC), 3-point percentage (.386, eighth in the SEC) and 3-pointers made (73). Beverley also had a huge summer, emerging as one of the leaders of the U.S. silver-medal team at the U-19 World Championships in Serbia. He led the Americans with 13.0 ppg and 3.2 apg.
He was a second-team all-conference selection last season by the coaches and the media after averaging 14.6 points and 8.7 rebounds and shooting 60.2 percent from the floor. All three stats led the Tide, and his shooting percentage also was tops in the conference. He had 13 double-doubles, including five against teams that played in the postseason. Hendrix is a bull up front. He plays hard and smart, and he uses his strength well. Without Jermareo Davidson and Ronald Steele, he'll be counted on to deliver even more for the Tide.
Here is a study in what four years of school can do for a player. He has improved steadily under coach Kevin Stallings to the point where any discussion of the top swingmen in college basketball should include Foster's name. He averaged 15.6 points and 4.6 rebounds last season. He shot 44.9 percent, including 34.6 percent from 3-point range. The 34.6 percent was good enough to rank 14th in the SEC despite being a career low for Foster. He also had a great summer, emerging as the second-leading scorer (9.4 ppg) on the U.S. Pan Am team.